A Leauki's Writings
Published on May 23, 2010 By Leauki In International

Iraqis are studying Hebrew at Baghdad University.

I find this especially interesting since my Hebrew teacher is from an Iraqi family.

The sooner the Arab states learn to accept that one of the non-Arab peoples is independent of their rule, the sooner we will have peace in the middle-east. Recognition of "the other" is an important step in the right direction.

 

Wearing an elegant pink headscarf, Marwa Abdel Karim serenades her fellow Baghdad University students with a heartfelt rendition of "Filled With Love," remarkable for the language in which it is sung – Hebrew.

She is one of the 150 students at the university's Hebraic department, studying the language of Israel in an Arab country that has never had ties with the Jewish state and where most people regard it as an enemy.

For the first time since it was set up 40 years ago, the department organized a festival earlier this month where students sang songs and recited poetry for an enthralled audience of about 100, and gifted tutors with presents.

...

The students learn Hebrew language, grammar, literature and the songs of the Hebrew bible, but confess they have never met a Jew.

"I used the internet to communicate with them but no one responded," says Saadun. 'Hebrew is very important'. Ancient Babylon, in modern-day Iraq, once boasted a large Jewish community but the numbers dwindled over time.

There has been no discernible community since Iraqi Jews headed to Israel in the years after the Jewish state was founded in 1948. By 1951, 120,000 Jews - nearly the entire community - had emigrated. The remaining handful fled after the 2003 US-led invasion which ousted Saddam.

Iraq is the only Arab country that fought in the 1948 war with Israel but never signed the 1949 ceasefire.

...

Professor Talib al-Qureshi, head of the university's faculty of languages, believes that despite the difficulties there are good opportunities for Hebrew-language graduates.

"Many think it is a waste of time but Hebrew is very important," says the 57-year-old academic with a doctorate in the language.

"People who speak Hebrew have very important positions in the world. The best will find work," he says of his students.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3890416,00.html

 

Just a few years ago, under Saddam Hussein, Iraq was trying to eradicate the Kurdish language in a campaign celebrated by western progressives as a "literacy programme". Today Kurdish flourishes in Iraq as an official language.

It is one grand irony of modern times that those who favour multi-culturism in the west often support an Arab monoculture in the entire middle-east. Today's Iraq is working towards are more multi-cultural world.

And call me a treehugging left-alternative green liberal, but I applaud any attempt to recognise different cultures and connect them.


Comments
on May 23, 2010

...

on May 24, 2010

Just a few years ago, under Saddam Hussein, Iraq was trying to eradicate the Kurdish language in a campaign celebrated by western progressives as a "literacy programme".

Ironic considering the illiteracy of western progressives especially in relation to the illegal immigration issue in the USA.

on Feb 16, 2012

"There has been no discernible community since Iraqi Jews headed to Israel in the years after the Jewish state was founded in 1948. By 1951, 120,000 Jews - nearly the entire community - had emigrated."

They make it sound so peaceful and innocuous. With in a 3 year time span over a hundred thousand people left their homeland of hundreds of years where they grew up and had established communities. I know the story and I hope the curious will ask the right questions and learn for themselves.

 

Anyways I hope this woman is brave, I fear Iraq isn't really ready for that kind of openness by all the people still trying to get out.

on Mar 03, 2012

This is really wonderful. I think the time has come to look beyond identity politics based on race, religion and ethnicity and embrace a more ecumenical creed.

on Jul 27, 2012

Bahu Virupaksha
This is really wonderful. I think the time has come to look beyond identity politics based on race, religion and ethnicity and embrace a more ecumenical creed.

I don't know if this has something to do with it, but my best friend in Dublin was an Iraqi. (He still is an Iraqi but I am not in Dublin any more.)

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